Minds of our generation
William Dougherty
Jianjun He
Mark Engebretson
Eric McIntyre
James Romain
Nicholas Roth
Mark Engebretson
Catalog Number: 
new classical

Des Moines, IA

Release Date: 
Jul 31, 2012
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

There is no serious shortage of saxophone records, but precious few of them are about the saxophone in quite the way that James Romain’s Howl is. It is not simply virtuosic, although Romain displays a full command of the instrument. It is not simply textural, although the pristine recording combined with the different settings and even digital manipulation create other-worldly soundspaces. At the heart of the album are the connections Romain has made with the composers whose work is represented here.

Romain approached his Drake colleague Bill Dougherty about composing a work that would reflect on and connect with poet Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. The resulting piece, which opens the program here, was premiered at the 2006 NASA conference and received its European premiere at the World Saxophone Congress in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in July that same year.

Composer Jianjun He met Romain when the two were at Casper College in Casper, WY, and Romain asked for a new work for saxophone and piano that would bring together the music of He’s native China and the compositional techniques that he studied in the United States.

Mark Engebretson’s “Sax Max” combines Romain’s virtuoso solo sax work with electronic manipulation in compelling ways. The two saxophonists met at the University of Minnesota in 1984, where Engebretson was only beginning to develop his uniquely lyrical compositional voice. His composition “Energy Drink” closes out the album.

Romain is the baritone saxophonist for the Oasis Quartet and as such, is always on the lookout for new pieces for the big horn. He found a great one in Eric McIntyre’s “Secondary Impressions,” which provided him with an opportunity to stretch his musical and technical capabilities.

Taken in total, this record is more than repertoire, more than a mere program. Romain’s personal connections to these composers and their music adds resonance and meaning to the performances, and those connections continue to resonate long after the record’s close.


CRITICAL JAZZ "[U]nbelievably cool ... Allow each tune to attack your senses be it visceral or cerebral and then see where the journey takes you. Romain has now established himself as a formidable force. The layers of deceptively subtle nuances provided with the help of Nicolas Roth on piano and Mark Engebretson are vitally important in forging a new sound for a new generation. A stunning work that sneaks up on you when you least expect it." —Brent Black